As the Business Organisations representing more than 30,000 businesses (and covering two-thirds of all employees) across Greater Manchester, we note the introduction of a tiered framework for local social distancing and have come together to set out key requirements for this new approach from Government.
Greater Manchester is home to a thriving private sector and a well-established business support base that works tirelessly on behalf of Greater Manchester’s business eco-system. The impact of Covid-19 on Greater Manchester businesses is enormous in the short-term, and with potentially profound long-term implications. We need to set a platform for the immediate future that enables our businesses to emerge from a position of strength, driving forward both the city-region and our country’s economic revival.
Covid has disproportionately impacted the economy of our big Cities, which will need to be supported to repurpose and come back stronger. As stated in the Greater Manchester Independent Prosperity Review: “now is not the time to lose confidence in the driving role that major city-regions have always played in improving collective prosperity and in leading national recovery from major traumas.”
We are calling on the Government to support businesses to do what they do best and keep the economy moving by clearly setting out the following:
- Fully transparent and evidenced based set of criteria for movement between tiers;
- Clear exit/de-escalation routeway, similarly transparent, consistent and evidence based;
- Compensatory support mechanism for businesses and employees impacted by additional local restrictions
- Fully functioning test, trace and isolate system with a focus on local delivery.
Requirements for the tiered framework
- The tiered approach to local restrictions will provide businesses (people and places) with greater clarity and certainty in which to manage. However, to be successful such an approach will need to have a fully transparent and evidenced based set of criteria for tier designation that is consistently applied across the country, enabling businesses to understand and plan ahead;
- Also embedded in the tiered approach there needs to be a very clear exit/de-escalation routewaywhichis vital to enable businesses to plan effectively. This must similarly be transparent, consistent and evidence based as the criteria that leads to a locality being listed in the first instance.
- Businesses will need to be better supported through these tiers and where more general restrictions apply. The recent set of local restrictions introduced by Government with little warning or consultation has left business both confused, frustrated and unable to operate effectively.
We welcome the support made available to date, including the Chancellor’s Winter Economic Plan. However, where restrictions, including local, need to be imposed, businesses need to be proportionately compensated (this could include an expansion of grants to businesses forced to close or allowing such businesses to continue to access the full furlough scheme). It has been unfair for Government simply to suggest that businesses are not viable or ‘Zombie-like’, when their position is a direct consequence of state restrictions as opposed to market or individual business decisions. It is also vital to recognise that while those businesses instructed to close may be eligible for compensation, there will be many more impacted in the wider supply chain, who will also effectively be closed due to lack of demand and these also need supporting.
- Businesses are taking all the measures required of them to ensure the health and safety of their employees within the workplace, and for this to work properly it needs to be underpinned by a fully functioning test, trace and isolate system. Businesses would welcome the potential for local delivery, with many good relationships already established with local health and environmental protection. Private sector capacity, matched with government support, could be a significant game changer.
These requirements have been collectively set out by:
- Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
- Marketing Manchester
- Manchester Hoteliers Association
- North West Business Leadership Team
- The Growth Company